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Iraq court gives life to 19 Russian women over Daesh membership

A picture taken on April 29, 2018 in the Central Criminal Court of Iraq shows Russian women, who have been sentenced to life in prison on grounds of joining Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, standing with their children in a hallway. (Photo by AFP)

A court in Iraq has handed down life sentences to nearly two dozen Russian women over illegal entry, membership in Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, and involvement in acts of terror across the war-ravaged Arab country.

A judicial source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Central Criminal Court of Iraq, which is the country's flagship criminal justice institution, found 19 female Russian citizens guilty of “joining and supporting Daesh.”

The court issued the verdicts as women, all accompanied by small children, attended the hearing.

Families and relatives of Daesh Takfiri militants are seen after surrendering themselves to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in al-Ayadiya, northwest of Tal Afar, Iraq, on August 30, 2017. (Photo by Reuters)

Ziyad Sabsabi, a Russian senator and Deputy Chairman of the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee, had earlier warned that the Russian women would face death penalty, noting that most of them had denied their charges.

He pointed out that there were children, less than three years of age, who were kept in jail along with their mothers.

On April 17, the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq announced in a statement that the Central Criminal Court had sentenced three Azerbaijani women and a female Kyrgyz citizen to death over affiliation to Daesh terror outfit.

The court also handed life sentences to two Russian nationals and one woman from France.

On April 2, the Central Criminal Court sentenced six Turkish women to death and handed down a life term to another.

The women, all accompanied by small children, told the court they had entered Iraq to join their husbands, who were fighting within the ranks of the terror outfit. 

In January, Iraqi judicial officials sentenced a German citizen of Moroccan origin to death by hanging in accordance with Anti-Terrorism Law.

Abdul Sattar al-Biraqdar, the spokesman for Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council, said the woman, whose identity was not disclosed, had confessed during investigations that she traveled from Germany to Syria and then to Iraq, because she had a strong belief in Daesh.

The German citizen was accompanied with her two daughters, who later married members of Daesh terrorist group.

Iraq has detained at least 560 women, as well as 600 children, identified as Takfiris or relatives of Daesh terrorists.

Experts estimate that a total of 20,000 people are being held in jail in Iraq for alleged membership of Daesh. The Baghdad government has not released an official figure as yet.

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